the State Bar of California
the San Diego Union-Tribune
The Press-Enterprise

Manufacturing Controlled Substances

In California, manufacturing controlled substances is broadly prohibited under Health and Safety Code section 11379.6. These cases most frequently involve the controlled substance methamphetamine, at least in southern California. This may conjure up a scenario in your mind of someone “cooking” up a batch of chemicals surrounded by beakers and burners in an abandoned house, turned “meth lab”. While that is certainly one possible scenario that could be prosecuted under this section, it is important to remember that this statute also criminalizes involvement in virtually every part of the drug-making process, right down to those individuals who sell the precursor chemicals and certain required equipment needed to make the controlled substances, as well as those who merely offer to assist in any part of the manufacturing process along the way.

Drug manufacturing is almost always filed as a felony by prosecuting agencies and it is punished even more severely than those cases involving possession of controlled substances for the purpose of sales. Because the process of “making” controlled substances typically involves some type of “cooking” with an array of different chemicals and other flammable ingredients, the dangers of combustion and potential explosion are often quite high. This increases the likelihood that such activity could also cause significant personal injury and/or property damage if an accident were to occur. Manufacturing controlled substances like methamphetamine also has adverse consequences to the environment, due to the large quantity of hazardous waste generated by the process. As such, law enforcement and prosecuting agencies alike have strong incentives to heavily scrutinize and severely penalize drug manufacturing activities.

Drug manufacturing is considered highly dangerous activity and such charges are treated very seriously by the courts. Drug manufacturing is punishable by a maximum possible custody sentence of seven years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $50,000, plus court costs. Merely offering to assist in the manufacturing of drugs is also a felony and can subject you to a maximum possible custody term of five years in state prison. With any drug manufacturing criminal conviction, it is also likely that you will have to register as a narcotics offender with your local law enforcement agency pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 11590. Enhanced penalties may also be available in manufacturing cases where children are present, where the manufacturing site is close to a school or playground, where someone suffers great bodily injury and/or death during the manufacturing process, or if you have sustained certain other drug-related criminal convictions in the past.

Drug manufacturing is an extremely serious offense. It is worth reiterating that even those who are not physically and directly involved in manufacturing drugs can still be criminally prosecuted and punished in California! Health and Safety Code sections 11383 and 11383.5 make a it a felony for anyone to merely be in possession of certain, specific chemicals that are commonly used to make dangerous drugs, like methamphetamine and PCP. These crimes carry a maximum possible sentence of six years in county jail, pursuant to Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (h). Additionally, Health and Safety Code section 11366.5 makes it illegal to knowingly allow other people to manufacture, store, or sell controlled substances in any space that is owned by you or within your control. You may be criminally prosecuted under this section even if you are not physically present at the time police discover drug manufacturing activity on your property! This charge is a “wobbler,” meaning that it may be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the discretion of the prosecuting agency. As a misdemeanor, this crime is punishable by a maximum possible sentence of one year in county jail. As a felony, this crime is punishable by up to three years in county jail, pursuant to Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (h).

If you have already been charged, or anticipate being charged, with drug manufacturing, or any other drug related offense in the Murrieta area, contact the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free, confidential case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.

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